There was a time, my friends, not so long ago, when the Yankees employed what was known as an "everyday first baseman". Yes, the very idea sounds foreign and thus moderately frightening to us now, but at one time this was considered common practice. This year, due to Giambi's injuries (and utter lack of defensive talent), Torre and his gang decided to forgo the old "one job, one employee" method in favor of a platoon of first base candidates that could take turns manning the infield while that handy DH rule allowed Giambi to remain in the lineup for offensive purposes. Perhaps that idea had some promise in its most abstract form, but suffice it to say that the platoon plan has not turned out to be quite the majestic innovation envisioned by Torre. The Yankees season has been one of fluctuation, a veritable roller coaster of bad luck and comebacks, and the first base position has proved to be no exception. Its only June, and 5 Yanks have cycled through the first base machine, including Jorgie Posada, who gave it a reluctant shot last night, and a 6th first baseman is joining the roster tonight. This latest addition, none other than our own Andy Phillips, comes with a mission: Torre intends to use him not as a part of a 542863-man platoon but as an honest-to-goodness everyday man. I certainly hope that this works out, because the Yanks could benefit greatly from some stability. In hopes that our platoon days are behind us (although I am not blind enough to wholeheartedly believe that...), let's remember the fallen first basemen we've left behind on our road to Andy Phillips:
Jason Giambi: He played just 2 games at 1st this season; luckily his "defensive services" were not really necessary because of the other folks on this list. Congratulations to him, though, for not making a single error during those 14 innings!
Miguel Cairo: As the most recent occupant of the first base slot, Cairo has actually proved himself to be quite serviceable defensively. He's played 12 games there this season without error and has even saved A-Rod and Jeter from committing errors with his surprising range. His skills at the plate are just not good enough to warrant keeping him in the lineup on a daily basis, though: .246 average, .299 OBP, and just 5 RBI. Back to the bench with him.
Josh Phelps: I like Josh, and he showed great offensive promise during spring training, but his defense isn't great (3 errors in 29 games this season) and his offense has really tapered off since spring. He was DFA earlier this week to make room for Andy Phillips, meaning he could be picked up by someone else. We'll see - he could resurface someday.
Doug Mientkicantspellhisname: Dougie is my personal fave, largely because he genuinely seems to be a nice guy. Like Cairo, he unfortunately doesn't bring much to the team offensively, but his range and defense as a whole is good enough to keep him in the lineup. Mike Lowell put an end to that for the time being when he so cruelly smashed his bulbous knee right into Dougie's face ("accidentally"... suuuuuuuuuure).
Jorgie Posada: He's played a few games at 1st over the course of his career (17 before last night), making just 1 error at that post back in 2000. Since his bat is so hot right now Torre understandably does not want to leave him out of the lineup; generally he'd put him in the DH spot to give his knees a rest from catching for a day, but in these interleague games that’s obviously not an option. Jorgie has made it pretty clear that he's not too keen on playing first, and since dear Nieves is like a lost little child when he comes up to bat, I highly doubt we'll be seeing more of Jorgie at first base this season other than perhaps the occasional interleague game.
As for Phillips, who missed a large portion of spring training to take care of his ailing mom and subsequently lost his roster spot to Phelps, he's had a great year down in AAA, hitting .301 with 11 homers and 36 RBIs. Torre seems confident in his defense, saying "my recollection of Philly is pretty darned good over there at first base". Let's hope he's right and that AP does us all proud... if he is a bust, I'm guessing the Yankees will start rotating every player on the roster into the spot for the remainder of the season.
Labels: injuries, Mientkicantspellhisname, roster moves, spring training